Thursday, July 19, 2012

Operation eBook Drop

My kid is a soldier. (She's the one up front, photobombing this picture of the group.) Okay, my kid is in training to be a soldier. And while she is in basic training right now, she will soon graduate to AIT school, and will be allowed a few privileges, like books. But like many people today, her books will be contained on a reading device, such as a Kindle, or iPad. Because I love to read, and I know that our members of the military can get seriously bored away from home, I have joined what I feel is a very worthy  organization.

Operation eBook Drop

This group of authors offers their eBook  titles for free to deployed members of the coalition armed forces. I joined because I come from a long line of members of the armed services, and it's my small way of thanking those who currently serve. 

So if you are a member of the military who is deployed, go sign up. There are over 1360 authors giving their books away for free. And if you are an author with eFormat titles, consider joining.

There she is again, over on the right. I was happy she picture-hogged it, because in all of the pictures posted on the Facebook page, all the skinny little white girls with light brown/blond hair look the same! They all have their hair in a bun and appear to be swamped in their uniforms. It's like *Thanksgiving, all over again.

*During The Kids's Kindergarten Thanksgiving program, Mr. Slave Driver and I dutifully videotaped a little girl for a full 10 minutes before we realized that the child we had been recording was not, in fact, ours. We felt horrible and chastised ourselves for being bad parents. We have since relaxed our parenting standards, and feel that if we show up with a camera more complex than our cell phones, it deserves a check mark in the parenting skills "win" column. 

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Fifty Shades of Hay

I know I haven't written much carriage driving stuff lately, but that's because (just in case you haven't figure it out yet...) I published my book. However, I still drive. In fact, currently I work four days a week. So here's a little taste of what's been happening:

The Peregrine Falcons returned again and hatched out three babies. One of them (Macy) died after colliding with a building, but the other two survived. Boxer (Boxer Sue originally, but now there is a question about the gender, so just "Boxer" for  now)  is happily soaring around Salt Lake City, munching on other birds, occasionally squawking for its parents. Primo, the other surviving fledgling, suffered some injuries after his own bird vs building incident. He has been turned over to a raptor rehabilitator for therapy. Thus, the small but always interesting group of volunteer falcon watchers once again have, like the falcon family, gone their separate ways. Last week on my way out to South Gate I noticed the volunteer's faithful leader, Bob, walking down North Temple. I told him to get in the carriage, and I gave him a ride for three blocks, dropping him 200 yards from Falcon Central. Bob looked tired, because during Fledge Month, he gets little to no sleep. So It was my pleasure to give him a slight respite from the usual harried running around he does. Later Bob informed that that he was able to strike "take a carriage ride" off of his bucket list. Although I don't think it counts, because it was more like a taxi ride than a carriage ride.

We have some competition now downtown. Well, sort of. At first glance it looks like some weird but colorful torture exercise machine designed by a maniacal Richard Simmons. In reality it's a 6 passenger bike. I looked at their website, which has broken links and little information,  and although their YouTube video has a packed bike with furiously pedaling passengers all wearing bike helmets and smiling like lobotomy recipients, in reality that almost never happens. Oh, yeah, the furious pedaling happens, just not the helmets. And I have to wonder if they have a business license and insurance. Especially insurance. Because, with the exception of a string of green Christmas lights, it's pretty bare bones when it comes to visibility.

People always ask 1) if the horse is real or 2) if it's a Clydesdale. For this photo, the answer to one of these questions is yes.

And finally, we've started using bike locks to secure things like our water buckets and customer's strollers. Occasionally it looks like an eclectic parking lot. And, even thought nothing has ever been taken from our hack line, we now have 100% zero items stolen. I know; although that makes no sense what so ever and is kind of redundant, it's reassuring in a  false sense of security way that you didn't know you needed before sort of way.

Don't ask. It's like a story math question.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Defending Your Turf

I noticed something the other day. You know the $5 DVD bins at Wal-Mart? You know what you will never find there? Disney movies. Pixar movies. You want to know why? The same reason you never find iPods, iPads, or Kindles on sale as a price leader. Because once you allow your product to be cheapened, you will eventually find it in the $5 bin. Yes, I know, it's a form of price fixing, in fact, it's practically the definition of it. However, it also means that the value of an item will be relatively stable.

It's similar to when we sell carriage rides. There are some drivers who will take any amount of cash someone waves in their face. I, personally, don't leave South Gate for less than $25. And I really don't like to blue light special myself by going under the $40 basic 30 minute ride. When someone shows up still sporting their $15 sign for the "Mall Special" (a ride around the block that takes about 10 minutes) it makes me crazy. It's comparable to having your neighbor short sale their house for no reason at all, sucking down the price of real estate in the entire neighborhood.

I am not Monty Hall, and you are not dressed like a kumquat. This is not "Let's Make a Deal." Nor is it the straw market in Nassau. I am not an independent carriage operator; I work for a company that sets the standards and prices for the work I do. There was a girl a few weeks ago who whispered, "Let me do the negotiating," to her friends and then proceeded to later call me a bitch when I refused to take them on a half hour ride for $20. Sister, I don't do anything for $20. Partially it's because I'm lazy, but I also have standards.

Which is why, when so many of my writer friends are selling their work for rock bottom prices, or posting entire books for free, I have priced my 384 page behemoth at $5.99. I worked on it for five years. At Amazon's 30% / 70%  split (which, ironically, is what I get for carriage sales commission) I make $4.12 on the sale of each Kindle download. I make much less on the paperback, and Smashwords has only sold one copy of a format other than Kindle. But that could be because there are issues with the downloads. Which I'm working on. So that should be fixed soon.

But what I will be doing, hopefully by next week, is giving away downloads of my novel to soldiers. It's a program called "Operation eBook Drop" and provides free eBook downloads to any deployed Coalition Armed forces member requesting a free coupon code. You have to go through the program (so please don;t email me asking for a free book) but if it keeps a soldier entertained while away serving our country, then it's worth it.

See? I can be convinced to give away something for free. Because the dollar to value ratio is off the chart here, and I'm the one getting the most out of it.

Please note: If you are a soldier signed up with this program I will be sending out the email with the coupon code next week. Thank you for your service.

And anyone can read the first three chapters for free at Wattpad. Because I'm not opposed to trying something on first before you buy...

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Four for the Fourth

Usually, on Independence Day, the folks at Casa Del Slave Driver go to a local PRA sanctioned  rodeo, eat overpriced goodies, watch fireworks, and then return home. But being that this year 1) the holiday is in the middle of the week, 2) The Kid is away at Army basic training, and 3) the holiday is in the middle of the week, we decided to stay home and flop around in front of the TV.

You know, something we almost never do.

Except we did pretty much all of it outside. You see, over time we've collected a number of electronics. Occasionally they break down. Sometimes, we drag them over to a repair shop and get them fixed. Such is the case with a 27 inch Daewoo television we've had since 1999. And mostly we took it to get fixed because we were having people in from out of town and needed the space. Now, I don't mind stepping around a big ass TV in the middle of the kitchen floor, but others are not to used to our, um, unique lifestyle. And by unique I mean lazy. And cluttered.

We also have several DVD players that, for one reason or another, do not operate properly. I keep them for a number of reasons, the main one being that I always hope they will perform a miracle I call, "Spontaneous Self Healing", and there by relieve me of having to either throw it out or get it fixed.  One such broken item has a surround sound do-hickey, while the other DVD player will decided, for no particular reason, not to play a randomly selected DVD. Maybe it's tired, or unhappy with our choices in film, I don't know. But at some point, after viewing several movies, it will, upon insertion of another, simply not acknowledge the presence of the disc. Just up and quits.

The Daewoo TV is, by electronic standards, ancient. It was manufactured in a cave out of bones and rocks. It has inputs, but no outputs. And the speakers are seriously weak. And that's being nice.

I guess I need to explain the purpose of all of this nonsense: Occasionally we do an activity outside we call "Teeny-tiny Drive-in". In the past we have hooked up a laptop to computer speakers, gather around the screen and watch a movie under the stars. Being that we got the ginormous Daewoo finally fixed, and really have no earthly place in the house to put it, short of the hallway where we rarely stand around and watch television, we decided to put it on a cart we use to haul crap out onto the patio where we spend a lot of time in the summer, working up a good case of skin cancer.

So out comes the Daewoo. I hooked up the Digix DVD player which has surround sound but no longer plays DVDs. Then I had to hook up an Entivo DVD player to the Digix DVD player because that one actually plays DVDs, on occasion, when it feels like it. Then I somehow, through trial and error and dumb luck, managed to get the entire thing to work. And by "work" I mean play the DVD and have sound loud enough that we can hear the actors over the helicopters, fireworks, barking dogs and the little neighbor girl who enjoys belting out Justin Bieber at a volume previously only achieved by the faux band, Spinal Tap.

I know what you're thinking right about now... "Slave Driver, what in the Sam Hill does any of this have to do with your "Four for the Forth" title?"

I'm getting to that.

"The Four" are the four movies we watched, and the "Fourth" part was their theme.

The Patriot
Independence Day
Captain America
and Jaws

Now, I know that right about now you;re singing that Sesame Street tune about how "One of these things is not like the other, one of these things just doesn't belong..."

But really, it does. The time frame of the movie Jaws is the Fourth of July holiday weekend.

I hope your holiday was a good one, and thanks to all of the members of the armed forces that help us keep our liberties and freedoms which allows us to watch movies like Jaws and write drivel like my blog.